Audi RS3 Sportback lands in South Africa
Audi has announced the official arrival of the much anticipated RS3 Sportback in South Africa – and the good news is that the engine has not been detuned for our market. The bad news is that you’ll be paying for the privilege.
Audi has decided to stick with the 2,5-litre five-cylinder engine for the RS3 Sportback, increasing the 250 kW of the previous model to 270 kW. There is also a full 465 Nm of torque available, giving the RS3 enough poke to get from 0 to 100 km/h in 4,3 seconds.
To put that into perspective, it allows the RS3 to pip both the Porsche Cayman GT4 and the BMW M4 to the 100 km/h post.
The enhanced performance is due to the upgraded engine, as well as a newly tuned quattro all-wheel drive system that can send between 50 and 100 percent of the available torque to the rear wheels. It’s also fitted with launch control, while a seven-speed S-tronic dual-clutch gearbox is the only option.
The RS3 Sportback is the first A3 to come with a sports exhaust system. Two flaps in the exhaust are able to shape the sound emitted by the engine, altering it depending on engine load and speed.
Audi has also managed to reduce the total weight of the RS3 Sportback by almost 55 kg, thanks to the new Volkswagen MQB platform on which this model is built. The passenger safety cell features a combination of ultra-high strength, hot-shaped steel, while the bonnet features an aluminium construction. The claimed kerb mass of the super hatch is a trim 1 520 kg.
Those seeking a more drastic weight reduction can opt for Audi’s carbon-backed RS bucket seats which save another 14 kg. European buyers have the option of carbon-ceramic brakes, further reducing weight and combating fade under track use. It’s not clear whether this will be an option on the locally available model, however.
As you would expect, the RS3 Sportback is noticeably more aggressive than the standard A3 or S3: the honeycomb grille is finished in matt aluminium and is surrounded by a high-gloss single frame. As with the rest of the RS range an optional titanium grey “quattro” logo can be placed below the grille.
The choice of eight exterior colours includes two unique to the RS3 Sportback — Nardo Grey and Catalunya Red — and we expect to see the majority of RS3s finished in one of those shades.
Of course all of this does not come cheap, and with an indicated retail price of R710 000 the RS3 Sportback is pushing the envelope of what is acceptable for a hot hatch. You do get a long list of standard features though for that price including 19-inch alloys, sports suspension, Xenon plus headlights, Nappa leather, front sport seats, alloy look interior trim, and the characteristic flat-bottomed sport steering wheel with shift paddles.
Even then, it’s not impossible to think that with options, the RS3 Sportback could nudge the R800 000 mark, putting it in Porsche Cayman territory.
Audi sold 174 of the first-generation RS3 Sportbacks and no doubt it will sell more this time round because of the increased demand for powerful hatchbacks. But when the previous RS3 came out there were no turbocharged BMW M3s or Porsche Caymans to compete with, which gave it a significant performance gap over what we would consider traditional sports cars.
That gap has narrowed but the RS3 has also sharpened its weapons in anticipation for this newly equipped range of competitors, and after all, it is the quattro system that makes fast Audis a joy to drive — the kiloWatts just help get you there quicker!